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Leather: Peeling touch-up? Recommendations to correct?


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#1 volvie!

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 11:57 PM

Hi Everyone, :wavey

I think we may have a car with some re-painted tan leather seats (not sure if it is the entire seats or just patches) because I was able to remove patches of rubbery something-or-other (it reminded me of peeling skin from a sunburn...) while cleaning the seats for the first time since we purchased it.

Background: My mom recently purchased a 1998 Volvo S70 with tan leather seats (these Volvo seats are top-coated/sealed). The car originally came with leather/suede combination seats, but my mom did not like the suede, so we had the dealer replace them with leather seats-- the front seats are from a 1998 Volvo wagon, the back seats are from a 1998 Volvo sedan. We purchased the car from a dealer that specializes in older Volvos, so I am not sure if the leather re-paint/touch-up was performed by a previous owner or by the dealer's "leather guy."

When purchased, the car was clean on the exterior, but had a layer of dirt/dust on the interior. On my mom's old car, I had been using Leather CPR (a cleaner/conditioner product), but the new car was so dirty that the Leather CPR wasn't completely cleaning the leather. So, I purchased the Lexol Cleaner and Lexol Conditioner (used by many Volvo enthusiasts and recommended by the dealer. Edit: I should say that the Volvo dealership recommends Lexol whereas the dealer we purchased from recommended cleaning the seats with Windex. He said it was a trick he learned from "his leather guy.") and followed the instructions using separate microfiber covered pads as applicators and a clean terry cloth towels as the buffer/final wipe down. After a couple hours of elbow grease on Friday, I was able to get the seats in presentable condition. :heelclick

BUT, there was a spot on the back seat (behind the driver) on the bottom, near the edge where the passenger's legs rest that was slightly lighter in color than the surrounding area. Well, it was bothering me, so I went back out today (Sunday) to finish the interior vinyl cleaning and decided to give the rear seat area another cleaning to see if it was just dirtier in the surrounding area...

Here are some pictures of the areas in question:
Posted Image
Area 1: Original area of lighter colored leather
Area 2: First area where "sunburn peeled." Revealed lighter areas.
Area 3: Second area of peeling. Revealed dark scratch.

Close-ups of Area 2:
Posted Image
Posted Image
As you can see, there are still patches of dirt in this area, but I don't want to keep rubbing off whatever it is that is rubbing off...

Close-up of Peeling in Area 2:
Posted Image
Posted Image

Close-up of Area 3:
Posted Image

So, now I have a few questions:
-How can I tell if the seats are re-painted? I saw this post:
http://www.autopia.o...age-please.html
And, I checked the seams-- there are no inconsistencies or missed areas that I can spot with my untrained eye...
Driver's seat bottom:
Posted Image
Driver's seat bottom close-up:
Posted Image
This is representative of all the seats, front and rear.
But, my first impression of the seats was that they "seemed a bit off." I don't know how to explain it, but they are a lighter color than others I've seen and they are also lighter than the padded armrest between the front seats. They are also smoother in the creased areas than I would expect them to be. I initially just attributed it to the seats coming from different cars, but since reading the post about the repainted seats, I am not so sure...

-Does cleaning/maintaining re-painted seats differ any from typical sealed leather?
I've read numerous leather posts, including this one:
http://www.autopia.o...ather-care.html
I'm a bit nervous to use more cleaners on the seats and am just thinking of a damp (water) towel wipe down every month (or as needed), to be followed up with conditioner every few months (or as needed). Should I be using a vinyl product (I have some Vinylex) or something else? Any other suggestions for cleaning/maintaining?

-What are my options to repair these areas?
I've seen the Leatherique and Leather Magic recommendations to fix leather, but those are out of the budget right now. Is there anything OTC or at a reasonable price that can be done right now?
Any quick disguises? This is my mom's dream car and my mom is a stickler for leather appearances (no cracking crazing, etc.) so seeing these areas will upset her... :sadpace:

-About how much can I expect to pay to have it professionally evaluated and/or repaired?

-Any other suggestions, recommendations, or thoughts?

Thanks! :thx

#2 salty

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:17 AM

Looks like the top protective layer has been removed by harsh cleaner or rubbing.

Some of the people with leather repair experience should chime in.
Mark
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#3 volvie!

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 09:51 PM

Looks like the top protective layer has been removed by harsh cleaner or rubbing.

Some of the people with leather repair experience should chime in.


Hi salty,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I hope it is not the top protective layer-- that almost seems worse than rubbing off a re-paint...

Sigh...

Well, as you said, I hope some of the leather folk see this and have some thoughts, advice, and/or recommendations. I am especially anxious to know what a ballpark figure might be to have it evaluated and/or repaired by a professional.

Any advice on how to locate a good leather professional (i.e., questions to ask) would also be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

#4 jayjacque

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:54 AM

Well I'm one of the leather guys. I got good news and bad news.

Bad news is you're right; it's highly likely it's been repainted and now through peeling on its own and/or roughing up through harsh cleaning, the finish has been compromised in a number of places. You can probably feel that with your hands as well as visuals. So it will cost to have it re-dyed or blend-dyed if you're fortunate and doesn't need a complete.

The good news: Right there in your city is a major supplier of leather repair supplies (Superior Restoration on Tribute Road 648-6550). In fact the wife and I are going there next month for a seminar. They can refer you to a good local tech who can solve that for you. I'll leave the quotes to them however.

At Superior they also have DIY kits, which could save on the cost, but that is a bigger job than you might think, so just depends how adventuresome you are.

#5 volvie!

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:17 PM

Hi jayjacque,

Thanks for the information and the resource! I'll get in touch with them shortly!

I'm pretty adventuresome, but my mom prefers "perfect" leather, so we'll have to see the cost to benefit ratio before we decide the DIY versus professional route...

Have you used their leather DIY repair kit?
I've seen the reviews for the Leatherique and Leather Magic kits-- how does the Superior DIY kit compare?

Thanks!

#6 jayjacque

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:14 PM

The DIY kit pretty much has what you need to get the job done, every bit as good quality as the ones you mentioned. You'll have to supply a sample of the color or drive it by their shop in order to match. Or here's a thought...Call them right away and offer your vehicle for next month's workshop (Saturday Aug. 16) so they can use your vehicle for demonstration training. You could possibly get a discount and a professional job at the same time. When you call ask for John and tell him Jay from Canada referred you.

#7 Quality Leather

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 08:50 AM

Well, what has been already stated is correct. You have rubbed through the recoating that was performed on the seats. Never use Windex. You are also correct that there will be a difference between the recoated leather and the original leather(armrest). Most guys match by eye and can only get so close. Plus they have to get the correct gloss ratio.

To correct this, take Jay's advice on maybe getting your car done for free at the workshop. If not available, then I wouldn't use Superior products. I am not a fan of SEM or Classic. I prefer to use OEM spec coatings (stuff that is used at the tanneries and most probably on your leather originally). If you want to DIY, then I suggest LRT. They can be reached at 267-228-5682. They sell pre-matched colors for most autos produced in the last fifteen years. The colors are matched with a color computer to the original master sample color. To get the best results, you will need to spray which will add to the cost unless you already have a spray gun and compressor.

If you want to have someone do it for you, then I have a friend over in Modesto. His website is Main Menu. I am not sure how much he will charge you though.

#8 jayjacque

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 10:38 AM

JMO, but I've got 26 yrs doing this. The ones who match by eye may have the edge, and here's why: There is almost always the need to add small amounts of yellow. gray, and orange tints to match-ups (matching that slightly used, faded and/or as much as we don't want to admit it, dirtiness still on the seats! (even when thoroughly cleaned and prepped!) This is especially true on blend-dyes where repairing and re-dyeing is only needed in sections.

Original OEM could require complete re-dye into every nook and cranny, possibly needing to remove the seats to make sure there is complete coverage. An experienced pro matching by eye will get the color true to what he sees. Sides, backs, and underneath areas, if in good condition, will be unnecessary to recoat. And less area to prep, mask, and paint mean less risk of overspray, peeling, etc. Of course there are exceptions, and maybe I'm wrong. It has just been my experience.
.
Superior Restoration, I believe, does both ways, with computer or by eye, but I have no official connection with them, so it doesn't hurt my feelings whether the OP wants to use their product or services. Was just trying to help and supply options.

The other thing I have found is that, even though some leather repair supply companies like to claim their products are best, it's kinda like exterior car products. There are many comparable high quality brands, but none that I've found are in a class by themselves above the others. I've even found a few that used that marketing ploy to justify jacking up their prices quite a bit. But now I'm starting to ramble...

#9 volvie!

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:50 AM

Hi jayjacque and Quality Leather,

Thank you for the information and resources! I appreciate all the help and am looking forward to having the leather fixed so I don't have to keep looking at my mistake... :o

I also appreciate your differing opinions and your sharing your individual thoughts about each recommendation-- it really helps me feel more informed.

Given that my mom prefers perfect leather and I do not have a spray gun or a compressor, I am leaning towards having the leather professionally repaired as a first option.

I just called Superior Restorations and left a message about volunteering our car for the next workshop/seminar. I'll call back during regular business hours if needed...

One more question: What does LRT stand for?
I couldn't find it in the decoder/acronym post.


I'll keep updating this post as things happen and decisions are made...

:thx

#10 AppliedColors

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 01:52 PM

JMO, but I've got 26 yrs doing this. The ones who match by eye may have the edge, and here's why: There is almost always the need to add small amounts of yellow. gray, and orange tints to match-ups (matching that slightly used, faded and/or as much as we don't want to admit it, dirtiness still on the seats! (even when thoroughly cleaned and prepped!) This is especially true on blend-dyes where repairing and re-dyeing is only needed in sections.

Original OEM could require complete re-dye into every nook and cranny, possibly needing to remove the seats to make sure there is complete coverage. An experienced pro matching by eye will get the color true to what he sees. Sides, backs, and underneath areas, if in good condition, will be unnecessary to recoat. And less area to prep, mask, and paint mean less risk of overspray, peeling, etc. Of course there are exceptions, and maybe I'm wrong. It has just been my experience.
.
Superior Restoration, I believe, does both ways, with computer or by eye, but I have no official connection with them, so it doesn't hurt my feelings whether the OP wants to use their product or services. Was just trying to help and supply options.

The other thing I have found is that, even though some leather repair supply companies like to claim their products are best, it's kinda like exterior car products. There are many comparable high quality brands, but none that I've found are in a class by themselves above the others. I've even found a few that used that marketing ploy to justify jacking up their prices quite a bit. But now I'm starting to ramble...


Agreed.

Used leather never has the OEM sheen and color...it's usually duller and faded. Eye matching is the way to go.

There's also no superior supplier of leather coatings, cleaners, etc. Chemically, they are all 90% the same. The difference is marketing and packaging.
APPLIED COLORS
PROFESSIONAL GRADE PAINT TOUCHUP KITS

#11 jayjacque

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 03:11 PM

Hi jayjacque and Quality Leather,

Thank you for the information and resources! I appreciate all the help and am looking forward to having the leather fixed so I don't have to keep looking at my mistake... :o

I also appreciate your differing opinions and your sharing your individual thoughts about each recommendation-- it really helps me feel more informed.

Given that my mom prefers perfect leather and I do not have a spray gun or a compressor, I am leaning towards having the leather professionally repaired as a first option.

I just called Superior Restorations and left a message about volunteering our car for the next workshop/seminar. I'll call back during regular business hours if needed...

One more question: What does LRT stand for?
I couldn't find it in the decoder/acronym post.


I'll keep updating this post as things happen and decisions are made...

:thx


Great Volvie! Who knows maybe I'll see you there. Look for a 6' 2" old guy with all grey hair and my wife with me, but my wife looks younger LOL

#12 Quality Leather

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 06:29 PM

Volvie,
LRT is the name of the company.

Jay,
I mentioned using prematched colors in regard to DIY. Unless he is a very good artist then he is not likely to get the color. As for color matching between eye and computer, I will take the computer everyday since I own one. I do know a lot of guys like Rob Dahl in Chicago who just uses pre-matches on the seats he does.

Applied and Jay,
As for the differences between coatings, I will give you the inside scoop. I use to work with one of leather chemical suppliers. Almost all of the suppliers out there use the same stuff. Most of it isn't that great. Two suppliers are actually distributing high end OEM quality coatings. One of those is LRT. Why is that? LRT and the other supplier have exclusive rights to distribute each of their major leather chemical companies coatings. LRT's coatings are the same ones used on the leather at the tanneries that supply the seat manufacturers. Classic, SEM, Leatherique, and others cannot make that same claim as OEM suppliers to the auto manufacturers. Yes, it is basically marketing between most of the suppliers out there but LRT and the other supplier do have something superior.:)

#13 volvie!

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:22 AM

Jay--

Well, it seems the August class at Superior Restoration already has all the volunteer cars they need, so I won't be able to meet you or your wife... :aww:

The woman I spoke with on the phone today was rather quick to get off the phone, so I'm still waiting for a reply to my original e-mail about their professional leather repair services/options...
I'm debating if I should send a follow-up e-mail-- Have you ever contacted them through e-mail? What is the typical reply time (within one week or longer)?


Quality Leather--
Thanks for the LRT clarification.


Everyone--
I see the term "coating" being used a lot.
Is this the same thing as a repaint or is it different?

As I'm assuming all the seats are already repainted, I am just looking to have the problem areas corrected with leather "touch-up paint," if you will, so that it is blended, uniform, protected, etc.

I have no idea what is on the car now, nor who did the work, but I am assuming the work was done by the dealer's "leather guy" as the front seats match the back seats (and they are from two different cars). Although I can readily assume this, I have no idea what the quality of the work is as the dealer likes to save money by using aftermarket (non-OEM) parts for mechanical repairs, so it is probably also a safe bet that the current leather repaint is not OEM (if there is such a thing).

Ideally, I could contact the dealer and ask about his leather guy, but the dealer is not the most honest man and he would probably try to tell me that the seats are not repainted. He is also trying to ignore me as of late as I am still trying to get him to follow through with some paperwork (we purchased the car four months ago)...

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!

#14 Quality Leather

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 05:55 PM

I will start with the OEM comment. You can get coatings that are OEM spec, which is basically saying it matches the specs set forth by the manufacturers. Coating is basically paint or repaint in your case. The other incorrect term that is most frequently used is dye or dyeing.

As for your problem, I think you are better off getting the whole seat recoated. You are correct that your dealer probably doesn't care about the quality of the work. He isn't the only one. Almost every dealer I have ever met from Lexus to Mercedes to Chevy don't care. They are mostly concerned about price. As long as it looks good enough, they don't care if it fails one week or one year later. Good repair guys either have to use cheaper products and/or do quicker less durable repairs. Enough of my rant. The end result is that I would have it redone for a long lasting repair. Yes, you may have to bite the bullet but that is the only way to get it perfect.
Another reason to have the whole thing redone is whoever does it now doesn't know what the previous guy used. A lot of guys won't touch someone elses work. It can be a nightmare to prep the leather and then you don't know if your stuff will hold over the other guys product. If cost is really a concern, then you might have to bite the bullet and learn how to DIY.

#15 volvie!

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 11:55 PM

Hi Quality Leather,

I will start with the OEM comment. You can get coatings that are OEM spec, which is basically saying it matches the specs set forth by the manufacturers. Coating is basically paint or repaint in your case. The other incorrect term that is most frequently used is dye or dyeing.


Your explanation really helped clear this up for me-- thank you! :up

As for your problem, I think you are better off getting the whole seat recoated. You are correct that your dealer probably doesn't care about the quality of the work. He isn't the only one. Almost every dealer I have ever met from Lexus to Mercedes to Chevy don't care. They are mostly concerned about price. As long as it looks good enough, they don't care if it fails one week or one year later. Good repair guys either have to use cheaper products and/or do quicker less durable repairs. Enough of my rant.


Yeah, I could have my own little mini rant here about the dealer we purchased from! :furious:
We spent countless hours over the course of many weeks explaining our expectations for the car we were looking for-- this included (but was not limited to) the importance my mom places on perfect leather (I can't tell you how many cars we looked at and turned down...). Granted, the seats look pretty good and the average person probably could not tell they were repainted, but it would have been good to know before I started cleaning the seats. I would not have taken such an aggressive approach if I had known that. Unfortunately, this was not the only "cheap" surprise we discovered after purchase and, it has been quite expensive to repair/replace his "cheap" mechanical "solutions" by a reputable shop...
That's part of the reason why I was hoping there a quick/cheap fix for the seats.

The end result is that I would have it redone for a long lasting repair. Yes, you may have to bite the bullet but that is the only way to get it perfect.
Another reason to have the whole thing redone is whoever does it now doesn't know what the previous guy used. A lot of guys won't touch someone elses work. It can be a nightmare to prep the leather and then you don't know if your stuff will hold over the other guys product.


As I said, I've been hoping for a "good quick fix," but in the back of my mind, I was thinking this might also be the case with the professional route...

Any ballpark estimates on the cost to completely redo/repaint the back seats in a sedan?
Before we purchased this car, we were looking at one that had heavily cracked front seats-- I'm talking like cracked-earth cracked!
And, of course, the owner thought they were just fine... :think:
We got a quote (from a different leather place than the one Jay recommended) for $1,000 to redo the front seats.
Is a repaint of the entire back seat going to cost more or less than that?

If cost is really a concern, then you might have to bite the bullet and learn how to DIY.

Do all of the DIY kits require a spray gun/compressor?
If so, what can I expect to pay for a decent user-friendly spray gun and compressor?
Any product recommendations in this area?

Any good how-to videos on the DIY process you can recommend?
(I'll explore youtube shortly...)

Thanks again for all the information and suggestions!

#16 jayjacque

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 05:08 AM

Well you'd have far less sanding than the one you got quoted for $1000, so I think it should be less. For comparison I did some seats on an old BMW for $600 that were mostly lightly sand, match and paint/dye but did have a good size hole in one seat. The ones with lots and lots of cracks require much more work IME. So I would get more for those.

Your job still seems a bit much for DIY. You can foam brush or cheesecloth the DIY paint coating, but usually not as fine a job. Pre-val or fine mist sprayers "might" work" only if watered down.

I wouldn't advise investing in a spray gun and compressor unless you have other uses for it, unless you've got 4 or 5 hundred to kick around. Because for leather work here's what's needed: a powerful silent type airbrush compressor and a large nozzle airbrush. You can use a full size compressor, but then need to get a gun suited to it and keep the air pressure down in order to control it and not use up too much paint. (to me it doesn't matter whether it's called paint, coating, or dye)

Here's what I'd do. Call at least one place and get a quote from them. You might get surprised and it'd be under $500. Heck it might not be over $400. If over $500, the next 2 places you call, tell them you can't spend over $450 (or lower if the quote the other guy gave you was lower). One of them will go for it. And again, just personally speaking, I don't think you have to specify you want original OEM or completely dyed, or anything like that. You just want the problem solved, so that they look normal again. If a customer calls me and says how they want OEM and they want every square inch covered even it means seat removal, and everything has to be perfect even if it means painting the whole interior, etc. my bid goes way way up. Then to me it would be over $1000. But realistically this job is worth between 3 and 4 hundred. The right tech using the right methods could even come out ahead at 250.

#17 Quality Leather

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 08:59 AM

Man if you are getting those prices then I need to move off of this least coast. I am not sure what Jay's prices are referring to, but if it is $300 to $400 to spot in then I am speechless. There are guys in Atlanta that will do something like that for $85. My minimum is $125 and just to quickly prep, match and spray would be around that price. I wouldn't guarantee it, because of the previous work done. If I was completely refinishing, then it would be closer to $400 for the whole car. After saying all of that, you still have to pay the going rate in your area.

I am going to disagree with Jay on the DIY. If you want to pursue it, then it can be done somewhat inexpensively. I use a small Sears compressor and a Harbor Freight spray gun. The sum total is less than $150. You could probably borrow a compressor or maybe pick one up cheap at a pawn shop or craigslist. The HVLP detail gun at HF is around $50. For big jobs I use a turbine, but you should be fine with this. Your other expenses will be the coating, sandpaper, acetone, strainers, and other little things to make the job go smooth. If you just want to try blending it in, then buy the coating and a Preval. It won't look as good, but should set you back less than $75. Honestly, if the going rate for a blend in touch up is $300 and you are comfortable getting your hands dirty (or painted in this case:)), then I would suggest DIY.

#18 jayjacque

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 07:33 PM

Man if you are getting those prices then I need to move off of this least coast. I am not sure what Jay's prices are referring to, but if it is $300 to $400 to spot in then I am speechless. There are guys in Atlanta that will do something like that for $85. My minimum is $125 and just to quickly prep, match and spray would be around that price. I wouldn't guarantee it, because of the previous work done. If I was completely refinishing, then it would be closer to $400 for the whole car. After saying all of that, you still have to pay the going rate in your area.

I am going to disagree with Jay on the DIY. If you want to pursue it, then it can be done somewhat inexpensively. I use a small Sears compressor and a Harbor Freight spray gun. The sum total is less than $150. You could probably borrow a compressor or maybe pick one up cheap at a pawn shop or craigslist. The HVLP detail gun at HF is around $50. For big jobs I use a turbine, but you should be fine with this. Your other expenses will be the coating, sandpaper, acetone, strainers, and other little things to make the job go smooth. If you just want to try blending it in, then buy the coating and a Preval. It won't look as good, but should set you back less than $75. Honestly, if the going rate for a blend in touch up is $300 and you are comfortable getting your hands dirty (or painted in this case:)), then I would suggest DIY.


I thought it was more than touch-up or blend in, closer to a complete since he said it was that way on all of the seats. So I was thinking at least 2 full seats if not all 4. For retail yeah I am getting those prices, or at least I try. Dealer work of course much cheaper. And when I did this in Arizona much cheaper. But I think you're right on being able to get the compressor and spray gun much cheaper. Sometimes I forget I'm living up here where stuff costs more and plus when I bought my equipment I didn't want to go cheap.

On a sidenote, I think I could probably learn a few things from you, seriously! Sometimes I get kind of stuck in my ways and my wife has to give me a boot in the butt and say, "you don't know everything about this trade" And she's right. I'm still learning new stuff all the time.

#19 Quality Leather

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 12:49 PM

Jay,
I didn't forget you. I actually wrote out a long reply that took me like 40 minutes to write. (I am a slow writer:)) This was two weeks ago. I usually cop my long replies before I hit submit, but I didn't this time. Unfortunately, I was logged off and couldn't get my reply back. I was so pissed (and busy) that I just didn't log back on until today. I will try to rewrite what I wrote later.

#20 Quality Leather

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 02:13 PM

Volvie,
Did you get your car done?

Jay,
I am drawing a blank on what I wrote a month ago.

I recently went to Superior and Classic's websites and noticed that their prices have went up drastically. I know most of the players in this business and their are only two suppliers at this moment providing OEM spec coatings. I actually use the other one, but I recommend LRT for most of the people on this forum because they do pre-matched colors. I have used LRT and will be using it in the future. The owner of LRT works for the chemical supplier and travels to a lot of the tanneries as part of his day job. I just spoke with him yesterday about a problem I was having and he gave me some good advice on how to solve it. Anyway, if you are interested then give Jon a call. Another great guy is Jay up at Flexproof. They manufacture their own stuff and their B-2 is considered one of the best repair compounds on the market.

My other reply probably had a lot of ranting on how most of the people in the industry only have a limited knowledge base on the materials they are selling and what they are used on. I think I may have touched on some of my equipment. It sounds like you use an airbrush. I use a detail spray gun and compressor for small to medium jobs and a Harbor Freight turbine gun for the big jobs. The turbine isn't great, but it gets the job done. If you want the best, then go for an Accuspray set up. You can do everything to a small dime spot to a whole couch with it. Something I haven't told to many people is a place to buy grain mold. You can get a gallon of grain mold from jgreer.com for $90. I now make nice big thick grain molds.:) Anyway, like I said I don't remember half of what I wrote, but I guess this will work.:)




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